• Ahoy there! Why not join the UK’s largest cruising forum? The Cruise.co.uk forum is the perfect place to meet and interact with likeminded cruisers to have invaluable conversations. Whether you're a veteran cruiser or looking to set sail on the sea for the first time, everyone is welcome on our forum to participate in the hottest conversations in the cruising world. So, what are you waiting for? Join the forum today by clicking here to register!


No announcement yet.

What was it like in the Old Days ?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    What an interesting thread. Thoroughly enjoyed all the stories. Thanks everyone.


      Originally posted by Dancing Queen, Chesterfield View Post
      What an interesting topic, I am really enjoying reading all the comments, I realise I am a mere novice having been introduced to cruising just over twenty years ago.

      Someone on the QE2 told me several years ago that EVEN the Captain could only go in the Officers Club by invitation ( not sure how true that was )
      I suppose that means that soon to be Admiral Barrowman would also have had to wait outside.


        What was it like in the Old Days?

        I have been cruising regularly for 20 years. Many years before I took my first overseas job in Pakistan. I sailed from Southampton on the P&O "Canton" (scrapped long ago) to Bombay (now Mumbai) and then took a British India ship to Karachi. These were liners not cruise ships. The contrast with today was remarkable. Bathrooms were shared amongst several cabins. When you arrived on board you found a document in your cabin listing the names, cabin numbers and employers of all passengers. To share a cabin with a member of the opposite sex almost needed a marriage certificate!! The food was excellent with a good choice but meal time were fairly rigid and the there was little if any "alternative dining". Entertainment was very lmited. These ships were a means of transporting people to their places of work overseas. The return trips which carried passengers going home on leave were parties all the way! Sadly the introduction of air travel (mainly the Boeing 707) ended all this. I had a gap of 30 years before going on a sea voyage. What a contrast!


          Just noticed this thread.
          I have posted on Youtube the first part of a video I took of Canberra in the 1980's.
          It was on a trip to Egypt.
          Fond memories.

          YouTube - howard18100's Channel


            What was it like in the "Old Days" ?

            I had the good? fortune to travel to Australia in 1953 aboard the former Monarch of Bermuda which, having been burnt out in Liverpool was partially rebuilt as a Migrant Ship, under the British Board of Trade renamed "New Australia" and managed by Shaw Savill & Albion Line. I sailed with my parents to Sydney and because we were only a family of three it meant that my Mother had to share a berth in an inside 4 berth cabin on D deck....this being notoriously hot in the Tropics, whilst my Father and myself shared an outside 4 berth cabin with two other men on the same deck. This was commonly known as the Hell Deck! There was no airconditioning aboard her, only the Punkah Louvre system of forced draft circulation, where cooled air was pumped around the ship and into cabins and public rooms via a huge system of trunking with variable knozzles that could be swivelled around to direct the stream of cooling air. In the Tropics the refrigeration/cooling system invariably could not cope on the lower decks so it was the usual proceedure to go and sleep on deck.

            Meals were at set times and were always taken in the main dining saloon though tea and coffee were available free of charge throughout the day.

            In 1954 I joined P&O as a junior in the Melbourne Office of Macdonald, Hamilton & Co who were P&O's Managing Agents in Australia. We were also the Managing Agents there for British India Steam Navigation Co (BISN) and Eastern & Australian Steam Navigation Co Ltd (E&A) and the Australian Coastal shipping line Australasian United Steam Navigation Co Ltd (AUSN) which at one time was the biggest coastal shiiping line in terms of the number of ships and tonnage.

            The ships I came to know very well were Strathnaver, Strathaird, Stratheden, Strathmore, Himalaya, Arcadia, Iberia, Chusan, Canberra ( I was the third person to board Canberra in Melbourne on her Maiden Voyage to Australia, when I went out in the Customs launch to take out the Passenger and Crew Mail. The first person aboard was the Pilot - outside Port Philip Heads - , then when about 10 miles from Port Melbourne, the second was the Chief Customs Boarding Officer closely followed by myself. We both had to climb up the Jacobs Ladder about ten feet or so to one of the "gun ports" as it was called.

            It should be born in mind that in those days, and until air travel finally killed off passenger shipping as such, all our vessels were LINERS, that is they operated on a regular printed schedule leaving from either Tilbury or Southampton - the latter port being used for Canberra because she was too big to get into Tilbury - then via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Red Sea, Aden, Bombay and/or Colombo, Fremantle Adelaide/Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. They were built to transport passengers, as I have said, on regular "lines" and passengers would be able to embark/disembark at ports enroute. In Summer months in Australia (basically November to March) the company (and indeed other shipping companies who also operated elsewhere) would sometimes schedule a three week cruise out of, for example, Sydney to New Zealand and Fiji or other South Pacific Islands. So in most cases these short "cruises" were an add-on to the normal operating Scxhedules. During the Northern Hemisphere Summer there would be the occasional cruise to the Mediterranean, Baltic or Caribbean. Again this was an add-on. Certainly in P&O there were no bespoke cruise ships, in fact I think that the only British company who operated a ship purely for cruising was Cunard who had the multi-green tinted - well loved - Caronia.

            Out of all P&O's original fleet at that time Canberra was the only vessel that eventually was refurbished as a cruise ship and made one class.

            Ian Byard
            Last edited by Maritime Michael Ian, Oxford; 21st January 2011, 11:08 PM.
            Don't mess with me.... I'm an Archaeologists Father!


              Originally posted by PM, SW View Post
              Dancing Queen,
              RE: The Officers Club. That story sounds true indeed. This is exactly like the Royal Navy where in the Wardroom (Officers Mess) the Captain is not a mess member. The 2IC (Executive Officer) is always the Mess President and the Captain can only enter by invitation. The loneliness of Command!

              before the days of PC the club was known as the officers Smokeroom and when the ship was at sea there were hardly enough folk around to make up a card school.Even tho there was no actual convention re the captain entering,he hardly ever did as he and the chief eng usually kept to themselves.



                I remember vividly sailing from Liverpool to Montreal with my family on the Empress of Canada in April 1970, I believe the ship was owned by Canadian Pacific at the time. Although it was still quite early in the year, I remember sitting on the deck in the sunshine as we travelled up the St Lawrence. I remember the evening meals being quite formal and the food being very good.. My mum was quite glam and I remember her getting ready for dinner and wearing a silver dress. Ialso remember being introduced to ......Douglas Home (cant remember his first name) but my mum said he was important !!!


                  Originally posted by CJC, Dunfermline View Post
                  I know some people have been cruising for a great many years long before it became a "mass market" holiday choice.

                  What was it like to sail 20 or 30 years ago before the "proles" started invading (like myself)

                  What have been the biggest changes.....

                  Food - lower quality ???

                  More optional extras rather than inclusive items ???

                  Excursions ???

                  Staff nationality and standard ??

                  Any other areas where things have got better or worse:D
                  i was cruising back in the 1970s it was brill i whent to south africa on the edinburgh castle ship, the passengers were alot more stuck up then than now and the dineing was all silver service. i still love cruising today and try to go round the med every year!


                    Originally posted by jimtheoldsalt, felixstowe View Post
                    before the days of PC the club was known as the officers Smokeroom and when the ship was at sea there were hardly enough folk around to make up a card school.Even tho there was no actual convention re the captain entering,he hardly ever did as he and the chief eng usually kept to themselves.

                    the royal navy is full of tradition esp in the wardroom like you are not to talk at breakfast you should only say good morning.


                      Originally posted by Castle, Sawbridgeworth View Post
                      This is all very reminscent for me. I started working on the ships 47 years ago but then we didn't call them cruise ships. They were generally called passenger liners. I can't be sure of a lot of the things because 'senior moments' now come along more frequently.

                      Here is a view from the 'other side'.

                      In those days most ships had 'first class' and 'tourist class'. Depending on which country the ship was going to, 'tourist class' could contain a high proportion of emigrants. Virtually everyone working on the British owned ships (most of them in those days) was British. Everyone working on board, apart from officers, had to be a member of the "Seamen's Union" and I still have my 'Seaman's Book' (equivalent to a passport) and my union card.

                      First Class had airconditioning (apparently requiring alternating current electricity) and 'Tourists' and crew had blowers and direct current. There was separate dining for first class and even the workers were segregated.

                      Senior Officers ate with first class passengers (at least one per table in order to be their host). Other officers sat with tourist class passengers. 'Leading Hands' (Petty Officers) had a separate dining room used jointly with civilian workers (shopkeepers, photographer, entertainers, hairdressers etc) and any female who was not an officer (nurses, children's carers etc). All other workers (seamen, stewards, waiters, cooks, butchers, bakers etc - except chief butcher etc who were 'leading hands'). Political Correctness wasn't in existence in those days.

                      Officers, when off duty, were 'on duty'. They were supposed to be available to entertain passengers in the evenings. Particularly to be dancing partners.

                      Leading hands and crew were not allowed to mix socially with passengers. The technical reason given was that it was because of insurance rules!!! Passengers were entered on the manifest as 'damageable cargo' and only officers were allowed to handle damageable cargo :D

                      Officers had their own social club and anyone in the classes below them could only go there by written invitation. Leading hands also had their own social club and the rest of the crew had the 'Pig and Whistle'. Also with invitational restraints except that females were strictly forbidden to frequent the 'Pig and Whistle' - even by invitation. Very reminiscent of John Cleese and the Two Ronnies in their 'I Look Down On Them' sketches.

                      I have probably bored you enough so shall stop now :o :D
                      i had good times in the pig & whistle


                      We use cookies to give you the
                      best experience possible.

                      By continuing to use our website you
                      agree to our cookie policy